SALVATOR MILE STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 3 | 1 MILES
Itsmyluckyday, the 6-5 favorite in the field of older runners, drew clear to win the $160,500 Salvator Mile Stakes July 6 at Monmouth Park by 1 ½ lengths. The 4-year-old son of Lawyer Ron racing for Trilogy Stable and Laurie Plesa, covered the mile on the main track in 1:34.88.
It was the third win in a row for Itsmyluckyday, trained by Laurie's husband, Eddie. After a fourth-place finish in the Gulfstream Park Handicap to start the campaign, Itsmyluckyday won the Best of the Rest Stakes April 26 at Gulfstream Park, then won the Majestic Light Stakes May 24 at Monmouth. The Salvator Mile is his first graded win since taking last year's Holy Bull Stakes while on the Triple Crown trail.
"I couldn't have been more pleased," Plesa said in the winner's circle. "This was not a walkover field; this was a good field. He didn't have things his own way and he had to come three wide. He kind of pulled himself up in the end.
"We've been building with him each race," Plesa said. "This was his toughest test since his first race back when he faced Palace Malice [Gulfstream Park Handicap, March 8, 2014]. He handled everything well."
Elnaawi was a bit reluctant to load in the Salvator Mile and when the gates opened it was Valid who broke on top. Bradester got the early lead as the field headed into the first turn and was pressured by Valid through an opening half in :23.58 seconds and half-mile in :47.07 seconds. Raging Daoust tracked while along the rail along with Itsmyluckyday to the outside.
Jockey Paco Lopez encouraged Itsmyluckyday to challenge the leaders heading into the turn the three of them were across the track around the bend after six furlongs in 1:10.01. Itsmyluckyday edged clear prior to hitting the furlong marker and cleared the field down the lane. He won eased up by Lopez with Bradester holding second by a nose over Valid.
"I took a hold in the first two furlongs and at the half- mile pole I knew I had a lot of horse," Lopez said. "I just let him gallop. He's a really amazing horse and very easy to ride."
The winner paid $4.40, $3.40, and $2.60. Bradester returned $6.80 and $4.40, and Valid paid $4.20 to show. The $2 7-2 exacta paid $35.40.
Don Dulce was fourth, followed by Code West, Raging Daoust, Dawly, Sailor's Revenge, and Elnaawi.
The winner was bred in Kentucky by Rob Whiteley's Liberation Farm and Pam and Jim Robinson's Brandywine Farm. That combo also bred Majestic Harbor, winner of the June 28 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Park and the recently retired Ruler On Ice, winner of the 2011 Belmont Stakes.
Itsmyluckyday is the second foal of the Doneraile Court mare Viva La Slew. He was a $47,000 Keeneland September purchase by Nick J. Hines, agent in 2011. Plesa purchased Itsmyluckyday for $110,000 for David Melin from the consignment of Eisaman Equine, agent, at the 2012 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s March 2-year-old sale.
Itsmyluckyday, who ran 15th in last year's Kentucky Derby and second behind Oxbow in the Preakness Stakes has now won eight of 17 starts and has three seconds and one third. The victory pushed him over the seven-figure mark in earnings with $1,022,600.
The David Jacobson-trained entry of Stormin Monarcho and Spa City Fever were scratched from the Salvator Mile, as was Dogwood Stable's Big Screen. Stormin Monarcho ran 10th in the July 5 Suburban at Belmont Park; Spa City Fever ran fifth in Monmouth's Elkwood Stakes July 4; and Big Screen was eighth in the Belmont Sprint Championship July 5.